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Assad regime regains lost territory in Aleppo

November 12, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Opposition members attack the Assad regime targets in Dahiyat al-Assad region located in western Aleppo on 28th October 2016 [Beha El Halebi/Anadolu]

The Assad regime army recaptured the Dahiyet Al-Assad district of western Aleppo today, reversing all the gains made by rebels two weeks into their counterattack against government-held areas, a war monitor and rebel official said.

State television said the army swept the suburban area for landmines after regaining full control.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a British-based war monitor, said the army and its allies made several advances on the divided city’s western edge this week, hampering the rebel offensive to break the siege on opposition-held districts.

Syrian government forces took Minian village and nearby positions, which were captured by rebels last month, the Observatory said.

Zakaria Malahifji, head of the political office of the Fastaqim rebel group fighting in Aleppo, confirmed the army’s advances.

“Of course, when the regime takes control, it has a negative effect, but there is persistence” among the factions, he said. “And hopefully there will be change in the coming days.”

The city has been divided for years between the government-held west and opposition-held east.

Syrian government forces launched a major Russian-backed assault on eastern Aleppo in September after besieging the area, which the United Nations says is home to 275,000 people.

On 28 October, rebels counterattacked in a bid to break the siege, targeting western districts of Aleppo in an offensive that included opposition and rebel groups all fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner. However, their progress slowed after early advances.

Aleppo has become the most intense front in the war pitting embattled President Bashar Al-Assad, helped by Iran, Shia militias and Russian air power, against mostly Sunni opposition groups, some backed by Turkey, the United States and Gulf monarchies.

Quoting a Syrian military source, state news agency SANA said the army and its allies were steadily advancing on the western outskirts.

This week the army also captured the 1070 Apartments district and nearby hills in southwest Aleppo, a focal point of fighting for months and important because of its position alongside a corridor used by the government into the western zone.

Russia says its air force has been observing a moratorium on airstrikes on rebel-held eastern Aleppo since 18 October. The Observatory and emergency workers in eastern Aleppo said heavy airstrikes had killed at least 450 people, and hit hospitals and other civilian facilities prior to that.

Opposition shelling of government-held western Aleppo has meanwhile killed 92 people, including 29 children, during the two-week offensive, the Observatory reported.